With Emeralds players arriving Monday evening, the 2019 season is officially (almost) here. A number of familiar faces and plenty of new names make up the roster as Opening Day rapidly approaches.
The Emeralds, proud Minor League affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, are heading into the organization's fifth consecutive season as a Cubs affiliate.
During that time, the Ems have posted a 162-142 (.532) regular season record while claiming two Northwest League Championships (2016, 2018).
As the organization prepares for the quest towards claiming its third Freitas Cup in four seasons, the Ems' Opening Day roster will have a heavy contingency of players that played some part in last year's championship season.
In total, fifteen former members of the 2018 team will be on the roster when the Ems open up play against the Hillsboro Hops on June 14 at PK Park.
Leading the way of notable returners is speedster Fernando Kelli (Puerto Cabello, Venezuela) who tied for the NWL lead in stolen bases (28) last season.
Fellow countryman Yonathan Perlaza (Paramo Tucani, Venezuela) is also back in Eugene just nine months removed from scoring the winning run in the team's now-infamous 'balk' off win over Spokane in Game Three of the Northwest League Championship Series.
On the mound, Riley McCauley (Sterling Heights, MI) and Ivan Medina (Carupano, Venezuela) both return after impressive performances in the 2018 postseason. Medina picked up a pair of saves during the 2018 playoff run tossing 3.0 total innings with three strikeouts while allowing just one hit over two appearances. McCauley also picked up a postseason save last season after posting the second-best K/9 rate on the team during the regular season (11.65).
Of the new faces to suit up for the Ems this weekend, young phenom Reivaj Garcia (Navajoa, Sonora, Mexico) will undoubtedly garner much attention amongst Cubs fans. Entering his second professional season, the 17-year old spent the majority of his first professional season as the starting second baseman on the AZL Cubs 2 squad. The youngest stateside player in all of Minor League Baseball last season, Garcia showed poise beyond his years batting .302 over 172 at-bats.
A pair of former 6th round draftees in Jeremiah Estrada (Indio, CA) and Kohl Franklin (Broken Arrow, OK) also headline the retooled pitching staff.
The 2019 Emeralds baseball season begins on June 14 at PK Park. Tickets are on sale now at www.EmeraldsBaseball.com or by calling (541) 342-5367.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.